Roland Garros Greats: Who Makes it to the Hall of Fame?

published: Jan, 24, 2023

by: TC Staff

With the 2023 Roland Garros Championship getting as close as ever, let’s look back on some of the stars who entertained the most before the big three came along. 

Ken Rosewall

Even though Ken Rosewall only won one French Open championship, he did so in the first French Championships of the Open Era when he was 33.

He won the 1968 French Open championship 15 years after taking home the amateur trophy at the first French Championships at the age of 18 in 1953.

Rosewall finished in second place at the 1969 French Open, falling to Rod Laver in the championship match at the age of 34.

He participated in only two French Opens, both of which he reached the final. He was a player who gave total value to your Roland Garros tickets.

Rosewall would have won more French championships with his accurate groundstrokes if he had not spent most of his professional career before the Open Era’s beginning. However, the significance of the first year of the Open Era, the age at which he won the French Open, the time between his French titles, and the gap between them all make him a celebrity.

Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova’s ranking is influenced more by her popularity than by her performance in the French Open. She was a fan favourite among those with Wimbledon tickets. 

She finished in second place four times while winning two French Open championships. Her nine Grand Slam singles victories throughout 12 Grand Slam competitions included two victories at the French Open. She dominated her era to the point where the Tennis Channel named her the second-best female tennis player of all time and the fourth-best player overall.

Navratilova missed out on several other opportunities to win titles since she missed the French Open for five years, from 1976 to 1981 (when she was 19 to 23).

She may have lost the most important and memorable match of the French Open. Between her championships in 1982 and 1984, it happened in 1983. According to, Navratilova only suffered one defeat in 1983, falling to 17-year-old Kathy Horvath in the fourth round of the French Open, regarded as one of the greatest upsets in tennis history.

Navratilova also won seven women’s doubles titles at the French Open; her last appearance in the doubles event in Paris semifinals occurred in 2004, 30 years after her debut there in 1974. That kind of longevity is notable.

Justine Henin

If you could have Roland Garros tickets from any time to visit a game, Justine Henin was THE game. 

From 2005 to 2007, Justine Henin won four French Open championships, including three in a row.

She would have been the favourite to win a fifth French championship, but just a few weeks before the 2008 French Open, she announced her retirement. Her star profile was only enhanced by retiring at age 25 when ranked first.

Henin came out of retirement after 16 months and participated in one more French Open in 2010.

Henin was only the No. 22 seed for the 2010 French Open and had just lost in the opening round of the Italian Open a week earlier. However, she defeated Maria Sharapova, who was ranked No. 1, in the third round before falling to Samantha Stosur in three sets in the round of 16.

Before losing the second set to Sharapova at the French Open, Henin had won 40 straight sets. 

Steffi Graf

Steffi Graf finished one short of the women’s record with six French Open singles victories and three additional finalist finishes.

When she defeated Martina Navratilova in the 1987 French Open final, she was just 17 years old. When she defeated Martina Hingis in 1999, 10 days before turning 30, she won her last French championship.

According to a CNN/SI report, Graf was the crowd’s favourite in the last match because they frequently chanted her name. Her final match at Roland Garros was a triumph, and she announced that it was her previous participation at the French Open and that she was retiring immediately.

Graf was named the greatest female player in history by The Tennis Channel.

Bjorn Borg

As a youth, Bjorn Borg won two French Open championships. By the time he was an adult, he had won six French titles, the last four consecutive.

In his first three French Open finals, he defeated two of the greatest clay-court players in history, Manuel Orantes and Guillermo Vilas. In the final round of Borg’s 1981 victory at the French Open, Ivan Lendl—who would go on to win three championships—was his victim.

It took Borg 10 days after turning 18 to defeat Orantes. One day after turning 25, Borg defeated Lendl in 1981, capping off his career at the French Open. Borg’s early retirement adds to the legend around his French Open victory, leaving you to wonder how many more he may have claimed.

In his career, Borg only lost two games at the French Open, both to Adriano Panatta. When Borg was 16 years old, Panatta defeated him in the round of 16 that year and again in the quarterfinals. When his career was at its height, Borg could not compete in the 1977 French Open due to a commitment to World Team Tennis, according to ESPN’s Peter Bodo. 

One can only wish they had Roland Garros tickets to witness this great athlete once again. 

Rod Laver

Rod Laver reached the finals twice in the first two French Championships of the Open Era. His 1969 French Open triumph was a component of his Grand Slam year.

He undoubtedly would have advanced further in the French finals if he had not used up his best professional years before the Open Era.

He is already famous since the Tennis Channel’s expert panel ranked him the second-best tennis player.

His inclusion on this list of French Open legends was secured by the fact that he completed two Grand Slams in 1969 and 1962, winning the French Open in both years as part of his sweep of all four majors.

Mats Wilander

In addition, Wilander won three French Open championships and finished second twice. His first French Open victory in 1982, at the age of 17 years and nine months, made him unique by making history as the eldest male to win a Grand Slam match during the Open Era. (Boris Becker and Michael Chang later broke that mark, with Chang winning the 1989 French Open at 17 years and three months and Becker winning Wimbledon in 1985 at 17.

Gustavo Kuerten

A favourite among those with Roland Garros tickets, Kuerten added to his attractiveness by winning three French Open championships, the first of which came in 1997 while he was only rated 66th in the world. He never advanced past the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament, but he rose to fame in France thanks to his prowess on clay and his demeanour on the court.

An ESPN analyst, Pam Shriver, remarked, “He had extraordinary magnetism.” “He had a natural sense of flair and substance, and you wanted to welcome it immediately. Just a lot of the French Open was fantastic for him.”

According to an article by the Associated Press announcing his retirement, a persistent hip issue that necessitated surgery in 2002 and 2004 restricted his success after winning the French Open title in 2001.

With the marquee event being one of the most well-followed sporting events in the world, Roland Garros tickets are already in full swing for 2023. Official sites differ from your go-to option, and trusted resellers are your best solution in reliably sourcing tickets. 

TC Staff

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